Ken Bartlett Biography

Ken Bartlett

Ken Bartlett is a history professor who wears many hats at the University of Toronto. He is founding director of the Office of Teaching Advancement, founder and program coordinator of the Faculty of Arts and Science’s flagship undergraduate experience initiatives: the First-Year Seminars, Research Opportunities Program and Independent Experiential Study Program. He teaches in Victoria College’s Renaissance Studies Program, which he also helped establish in 1979, and holds graduate appointments in both the Department of History and the Centre for Medieval Studies.

Ken has taught courses at every level during his 25-year career at the university, from first-year through to graduate school, from intimate seminars to large courses of more than 500 students.  He teaches a large first-year history class, which he developed and has since grown to the largest enrolment of any course in the history department.  Since it’s inception in 1984, Ken has taught close to 10,000 students in this course alone, many of whom have gone on to enroll in his other undergraduate courses, or be supervised by Ken at the graduate level. He also teaches a first-year seminar in Renaissance and Baroque Rome and teaches many summers in Siena and Oxford as part of U of T’s Summer Abroad program.

Ken’s commitment to quality teaching has resulted in his taking a leading role in the establishment of some of U of T’s most successful curriculum innovations: First-Year Seminars, Research Opportunities and the Independent Experiential Study Program. He has continued to nurture, strengthen and develop these by serving as the Program Coordinator for all three.  The First-Year Seminars (199Y) were created in 1993 to provide intimate and interactive learning experiences and to help address some of the challenges of learning in a large urban university in which most students are commuters.  Ken launched the program with 75 seminars: it has since grown to 100 seminars capped at 24 students each.

Ken was also a leader in the creation of the Research Opportunities Program (299Y) which provides second year students with an opportunity to with a professor on a research project for course credit.  Launched in 1994 with about 80 projects, today the program offers more than 100 projects to some 20 students.  In 1999, the First-Year Seminars and Research Opportunities Program were recognized with one of U of T’s most prestigious prizes: the Northrop Frye Award for excellence and innovation in linking teaching and research.  Further, the success of the programs has led a number of universities to seek Ken’s advice on how to emulate them on their own campuses. His ongoing consultation to other institutions is an example of how Ken’s impact on teaching is felt both beyond his own field and university.

Another curriculum innovation that Ken was involved from the onset is the Independent Experiential Study program (399Y), in which students take part in a research project with a professor off-campus, often in another country. As Ken notes “What better way can there be for students to understand what research is and the dynamic of being at the forefront of Knowledge? And ours is an international university with an international mandate: this must extend to our undergraduates, both through our programs abroad and through research opportunities. Our students must see first hand what we do and participate in it.”

Ken received his Ph.D. in 1978 from U of T. He was editor of Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme from 1985 until 1990 and president of the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies from 1982 until 1984 and during 1992-93 was acting director of the graduate program in museum studies. Ken was founding director of U of T’s Art Centre, and sits on its board of trustees and on the boards of the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art and the Stare Hermitage Foundation.

He is the author, editor or translator of The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance (1992); The English in Italy 1525-1558: A Study in Culture and Politics (1991); Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (Pius II), The Goodly History of Euryalus and Lucrece (De Duobus Amantibus Historia), with E. O’Brian (1999); Giovanni Della Casa. Galateo with K. Eisenbichler. (3 eds. 1985-95); Ruzzante (Angelo Beolco) La Moschetta, with A. Franceschetti. (1993). In addition, Ken has published over 35 articles and contributions to books on various aspects of the Renaissance. In 2005, he produced a 36-video series with a three volume companion text on the Italian Renaissance becoming the first professor from a Canadian university ever signed by the Teaching Company.

In 1993, Ken won the Victoria University Excellence in Teaching Award; in 2000, the Students Administrative Council and Association of Part-Time Students Undergraduate Teaching Award; and in 2003, the Faculty of Arts and Science outstanding Teaching Award. In 2005, Ken was awarded the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship. That same year he was presented with an Arbor Award by the university for service to the University.

January, 2006